Plan For A Better Year
When we first set out to establish our practices, there are so many things we have to think about and so many decisions we have to make. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, time invested in really thinking through some of the issues involved provides great holding and support for us in the early stages of our practice, and sets the stage for the future.
A key exercise to do at the start is to create a business plan for the practice. And it doesn’t apply only to new practices starting out. Even well established practices can benefit from taking a step back to look at some of these issues.
This may sound over the top, and I can hear the groans as I imagine people reading my words. A business plan just doesn’t sound like it belongs in a therapy practice does it? However, time and again, I have seen how looking at these issues can make what comes after so much easier. When faced with a decision, we can simply ask ourselves whether our proposed course of action is in alignment with our business plan.
Some really basic decisions will form the initial parts of the business plan, such as…
Name: What is your practice going to be called?
Location: Where is your practice going to be located?
Then, we start to go a bit deeper in ourselves…
Values, Vision, Purpose: Why are you doing this? What is important to you about this work? What are your core values? What do you hope your clients will get from working with you?
Strengths and Weaknesses of my Practice: What gifts, skills or qualities do you bring to your work? How might your past experiences help you in the work? How do you undermine or sabotage yourself? What skills or training do you need, but don’t yet have?
Desired Environment: What would you like your practice to feel like? What sort of atmosphere do you want to create?
And looking outside…
Competition: Who are your competitors? Who can you learn from? What are other professions doing that might be useful to you? How do you differ from other people who are serving the same market, or providing similar services?
My Offering: What services will you be offering to clients? On what terms?
My Clients: Who are your clients likely to be? Who do you like to work with? What challenges or issues do they bring? What do they want for themselves? How do you hope to help them?
And thinking about using some of this information in a practical way…
Marketing: How do you plan to attract clients to you? How will they learn about you? What channels might they come to you through?
My Time Contribution: How much time are you willing to spend with clients? And how much time are you willing to spend on developing and running your practice?
Fees and duration: How much are you going to charge and on what basis? How are you going to approach cancellations and no-shows?
Costs: What are your main areas of expenditure? How much will they cost you?
Financial Information: How much do you want or need to earn after expenses?
Risks: What are the risks involved in implementing all of the above? In what areas could you be vulnerable? How are you going to meet and manage these risks?
If you’re finding it hard to answer some of these questions, don’t worry. You don’t have to know all the answers. Take the time to think over the questions and let them sit for a while. See what emerges.